Value-Based Procurement: A European Conference

By Danélia Botes

February 18, 2024

Introduction

In the realm of healthcare, innovation is not merely a buzzword—it’s a necessity. One such innovation is Value-Based Procurement (VBP), an approach that aims to enhance healthcare delivery outcomes in a sustainable manner. Health sector stakeholders can accelerate VBP implementation by sharing their experiences which will lead to improved outcomes in healthcare delivery.

The Power of Value-Based Procurement

VBP is a patient-centric approach to healthcare procurement with the focus on high-quality and affordable healthcare. It is a strategy that has been gaining traction, with the European Value-Based Procurement Conference becoming a flagship event that brings together stakeholders to exchange ideas from theory to practice. The most recent conference was held in December 2023, which included the participation of 120 people from across Europe and beyond, as well as procurement experts from Canada. The conference included keynote addresses from experts on various topics including value-based supply, patient priorities, legal issues, and the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in evidence collection.

The Danish Approach to Value-Based Procurement

In 2007, Denmark initiated their VBP model after significant public sector reforms. This resulted in a more centralised and professionalised system with an increased focus on innovation and green procurement from 2016. To support this, a public-private partnership led by Rethink Value received a government grant (€500,000) to create an innovative software model that uses data to visualise the value in medical technology procurement procedures. By following the (population, intervention, control, and outcomes) PICO principles, the consortium created a national cost database to predict outcomes prior to making procurement decisions.

The Importance of Supplier Readiness

For a truly value-based healthcare system, all parts of the ecosystem must be aligned. This includes suppliers, who must understand and adapt to new ways of thinking and working. By embracing digital technologies, suppliers can ensure that they use their resources well, focusing on creating value for customers and removing low-value activities. This will reduce waste and carbon footprint while driving for better resource usage and greener healthcare.

The Role of AI in Evidence Collection

Proving the impact of a medical technology on value is a complex and time-intensive process. ‘We are data rich but very poor in how we utilise data in our industry,’ said Praful Mehta, CEO of Vamstar. AI has the potential to offer some resolution, particularly in evidence collection. The use of AI, specifically large-language models (LLMs), can expedite data aggregation, synthesis, and analysis on a large scale. By extracting insights from unstructured data (mostly stored in silos) contained in electronic health records, AI can unlock evidence of real-world outcomes. Some AI tools can also accelerate systematic reviews and identify important studies from patient registries. Although there are challenges, such as biassed or inaccurate results and the need for stronger governance, the technology is rapidly improving and the MedTech industry should be prepared to embrace it.

Healthcare Professionals as Key to Success

Healthcare professionals play a pivotal role in the success of VBP. The Catalonia healthcare system, an early adopter of value-based contracting, has demonstrated this through several initiatives. These initiatives have underscored the importance of engaging healthcare professionals early and often when developing value-based initiatives. Rossana Alessandrello from AQuAS said ‘We cannot make change without healthcare professionals’. Skills, leadership, and incentives are extremely important in value-based projects, and healthcare professionals will play a crucial role in leveraging value-based procurement to address financial and environmental sustainability, as well as health system resilience.

Accelerating Outcomes with Value-Based Procurement

VBP is more than just a passing trend—it’s a transformative approach that will redefine the future of healthcare. This innovative approach puts patient outcomes first leads to high-quality, affordable healthcare. But, moving from traditional, transactional procurement to a model that focuses on patient value metrics and socio-economic impact is complex. It needs a change in attitudes, measurable data, a shared understanding of value, trust, and training. Not every country may be ready to adopt this approach right away, but the Danish model shows promise. Despite the challenges, VBP offers significant potential benefits. To truly realise its potential, all stakeholders, including suppliers and procurement experts, must work together.

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